today was there was a birthday party for my niece’s daughter, lexia.
i wasn’t invited, nor was ziona for that matter. lexia’s mother doesn’t like me, doesn’t like the fact that my parenting includes believing my child when she tells me that she is a girl.
ironically, (i think) it was at lexia’s 3 y/o birthday party that ziona told me that she was not a boy. that was 6 years ago today.
ziona and lexia played together today, before my niece came get her kids (lexia and her younger brother, mikey.) it is wonderful to see that no rejection of my daughter is present in either the children, despite their mother’s position about ziona. this is due, in no small way, to my beautiful mother and her mentoring of these, her great grandchildren.
at first, lexia didn’t know quite how to feel about ziona…and at one point had even led a playroom full of kids at a local ‘chick-fil-a’ to tease ziona. made worse by the fact that it was my daughter’s first time in public dressed as the girl she is, this betrayal stayed with ziona for the next full year, during which time the two girls didn’t play together. in fact, if ziona knew that lexi would be at my mom’s, we waited until she wasn’t before visiting.
my mom was uncomfortable with the whole ‘transgender’ thing at first. she was no more comfortable later, when i began to really believe my child, to the point of allowing her to live outloud, and dress how she wanted, to the point of referring to her by her girl name and pronouns. in fact, it took my mom the better part of that first year of ziona’s transition, almost four years ago, to succomb to the proper pronouns.
but at some point along the way, while she adjusted to our decision and to seeing ziona with her long hair and dresses, she began to explain to lexia and mikey as best she could, that ziona was a girl that got the wrong body.
today the little boy and the two older girls, (my daughter and her cousin lexia) played together, as they have many times in the past four years since ziona’s transition, and i watched…eavesdropping in on their play. as i watched them, i remembered that birthday party 6 years ago and ziona’s innocent assertion that she was herself going to grow into a big girl someday. it was the beginning of a whole new phase in my life.
i had to educate myself about all things transgender, as i had educated myself about autism years before. i had to go beyond my fears so that i could hear my daughter’s needs. and i had to stand strong, facing possible rejection by my family, by friends, by society at large…all so that i could support her and advocate for her right to self-definition.
the occasion of lexia’s birthday being the anniversary of ziona’s revelation to me is a strange coinciding incidence. it serves to remind me that in truth, there are three births to be celebrated. lexia’s, ziona’s and mine. for in a very real way, ziona and i started over that day…born into a new relationship and a new reality.
so, happy birthday, one and all!